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Which Factors Determine the Roles and Status of Public Relations Departments in an Organization? p. 89

  • Organizations, depending on their culture and the wishes of top management, structure the public relations function in various ways.
  • The role of public relations in an organization depends on the type of organization, the perceptions of top management, and the capabilities of the public relations executive and staff.

Which Levels of Influences Can Public Relations Departments Exercise in an Organization? p. 92

  • Public relations is a staff function rather than a line function.
  • Public relations professionals often serve at the tactical and technician levels, but others are counselors to the top executive and have a role in policy making.
  • Public relations is expanding from its traditional functions to exercise influence in the highest levels of management.

Which Services Do Public Relations Firms Provide? p. 97

  • Public relations firms come in all sizes and are found worldwide, providing myriad services. The scope of services they provide to clients varies, but there are common denominators.
  • In recent decades, many public relations firms have either merged with advertising agencies or become subsidiaries of diversified holding companies.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Employing a Public Relations Firm? p. 100

  • Advantages of using outside firms include versatility and extensive resources, among other considerations.
  • Disadvantages associated with outside public relations firms is that they may lack the full-time commitment of an in-house department, need a lot of direction, and are often more expensive.

QUESTIONS for Review and Discussion

1. How have the role and function of public relations departments changed in recent years?

2. In what ways do the structure and culture of an organization affect the role and influence of the public relations department?

3. Which kinds of knowledge does a manager of a public relations department need today?

4. The names of many departments now include the term “corporate communications” instead of “public relations.” Do you think the first term is more appropriate? Why or why not?

5. What is the difference between a line function and a staff function? To which function does public relations belong, and why?

6. Why is a compulsory-advisory role within an organization a good one for a public relations department to have?

7. Which four areas of an organization are the most likely to develop friction with public relations? Explain.

8. Name at least seven services that a public relations firm offers clients.

9. How important is international business to U.S. public relations firms?

10. What are the standard methods used by a public relations firm to charge for its services?